There was a lot of news this past weekend, so you might have missed that item about the Florida woman who married a tree.
It happened Saturday in Fort Myers, and it appeared to be a rather traditional wedding, complete with a ring bearer, a bride in a white gown, flowers, music, and a wedding cake that had the words, “Higher Love” on it.
It was an outdoor wedding, which I guess happens a lot when one of the participants is a tree, especially a giant ficus tree with an 8,000-square-foot canopy.
The bride, Karen Cooper, married the tree three days before its fate was scheduled to be decided by the city’s Beautification Advisory Board, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
The city had earmarked $13,000 to chop down the 100-year-old tree because even though it was planted on public property, its roots and branches had meandered onto a piece of private land which was the subject of a sale, the newspaper reported.
Cooper, like many of her neighbors, have enjoyed the shade and look of the big tree in Snell Family Park. After the city’s public works department gave the green light on removal, Cooper took matters into her own hands.
Would she? Yes, she wood.
She vowed to be faithful to the tree until death do them part. Which could be Tuesday.
“If they cut down this tree, I’m going to be a widow,” Cooper told the newspaper, sounding very much like the sappy one in this relationship.
Then again, her limb beau is in limbo.
It’s not the first time a Florida woman has turned to marriage with a non-human partner to make a point.
Seven years ago, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Citizens United case that corporations have new rights that had previously only been available to people, Sarah “Echo” Steiner of Lake Worth announced that she was looking to marry a corporation.
“It would be an open marriage,” Steiner said. “I don’t think I could keep a whole corporation satisfied.”
Steiner, a former co-chair of the Green Party of Florida, said she’d be weighing how her corporate suitors behaved “in past mergers” and that, yes, she was looking forward to having “subsidiaries” some day.
Compared to a corporation, a tree seems like a much more suitable partner.
If Cooper’s wedding ceremony ends up stalling or eliminating the tree’s demise to the big wood chipper in the sky, this could turn out to be one of those precedent-setting stories.
Not that the state of Florida would recognize such a marriage. But if conducting a symbolic public wedding turns out to be a cure for saving endangered elements of Florida’s natural beauty, there’s no telling where this will lead.
As in, “Mom and Dad, I would like you to meet the man-atee in my life.”
Or, “By the power invested in me by the Audubon Society, you may now peck the beak of the Florida grasshopper sparrow.”
Estuaries and wetlands will be snapped up like Palm Beach trust-fund race-car drivers. And the label of “tree hugger” will no longer be a strong enough expression to describe these new nuptials.
Let’s face it, women can do a lot worse than marrying a tree. Florida has the seventh-highest divorce rate in the country, and for those who are married three times, the divorce rate in that third marriage is about 73 percent.
So rather than looking for Mr. Right on try No. 4, it might be worth transitioning to something deciduous rather than duplicitous.
Sure, there are disadvantages. Trees never pick up after themselves. And who wants shrubs at your age, or a 100-year-old spouse with no sign of dying anytime soon?
But if you’re into the strong, silent type who will always be there, no matter which way the wind blows, well, then you might be ready for a tree.
Good luck, Mrs. Ficus. We’re rooting for you very mulch.